This is Governor Janet Mills, and thank you for listening.
Well, as you know, in December, a powerful storm brought to our state severe flooding, power outages, and extensive damage, especially in central and western Maine.
In the wake of that storm, I asked President Biden to formally declare a Major Disaster Declaration in order to unlock Federal funding that can help our state recover and rebuild.
As part of that request, I asked the President to approve what is known as “Individual Assistance” – it’s a fancy way of saying financial help for real people. This type of assistance can help you repair your house, replace your car, pay for a temporary place to stay, or replace furniture or belongings that were damaged, among other things.
Thankfully, the President approved my request, making funding available to folks in Androscoggin, Franklin, Kennebec, Oxford, and Somerset counties – those counties that were so hard hit by that storm in December.
Now we want to make sure that folks who live in these counties know that they may be eligible for assistance, and we want to encourage them to apply.
As part of that effort, FEMA – Federal Emergency Management Agency – is sending Disaster Assistance Teams door-to-door, canvassing neighborhoods in Androscoggin, Franklin, Kennebec, Oxford and Somerset counties, helping affected residents to register for FEMA disaster assistance.
And, earlier this week, FEMA and the State of Maine officially opened two Disaster Recovery Centers – one in Skowhegan and one in Rumford, with more to come.
The Somerset County Center is located at 4 County Drive in Skowhegan, and the Oxford County Center is located at 145 Congress Street in the Municipal Building in Rumford.
At those locations, which are both open seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., FEMA staff will be on hand to help you apply for Federal assistance. And business owners can also apply for low-interest loans to repair or replace property damage.
If you live in one of the five counties and were affected by the storm, you can visit these centers, no matter which of those counties you live in. We also hope to work closely with FEMA to stand up more Disaster Recovery Centers to serve eligible families soon.
These centers are a great resource to get help in person, but you know, if you’re not able to visit one in person, you can also apply for help by calling the FEMA toll-free helpline at 800-621-3362 – that’s 800-621-FEMA – or by visiting DisasterAssistance.Gov, or by downloading the FEMA app.
This is the first time since 2008 that Maine has actually qualified for federal assistance for individuals recovering from a natural disaster. If you suffered property damage during December’s storm, and these losses were not covered by insurance, please take advantage of this financial support. And make sure that any of your friends and family who were affected by the storm apply as well. No harm in trying.
In the meantime, the Maine Emergency Management Agency is continuing to work on the Major Disaster Declarations for the two storms that hit us so hard in January. If federal officials agree that the damage from those storms qualifies, I will certainly seek another Federal Disaster Declaration from President Biden for the January storms.
Please, if you incurred losses in the December storm, apply for federal assistance today.
This is Governor Janet Mills and thank you for listening.